Muzzled China feminist group to sue over online censorship
BEIJING, China – Feminist activists are preparing to sue China's biggest social media platforms for deleting their organization's account, the group's founder said on Saturday, March 24.
On March 8, International Women's Day, staffers operating the prolific Feminist Voices account on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform found it had been deleted.
Weibo customer service representatives told them by phone that the account could not be reactivated due to the posting of "sensitive and illegal information", the group's founder Lu Pin told Agence France-Presse.
The next day, the group's WeChat public account had also disappeared.
The group has run into trouble before on social media, with their accounts being temporarily suspended and individual posts deleted, but "this time they say it's a permanent deletion", Lu said.
Feminist Voices has "already begun legal procedures and is preparing to sue Weibo and Wechat", she said, adding that they have sent letters of complaint to both the government department in charge of the internet and the All-China Women's Federation.
Neither Sina Weibo nor internet giant Tencent, which runs WeChat, responded to requests for comment.
The black-out prompted Lu to pen an open letter to British actress Emma Watson – "one of the feminist idols held in highest esteem by young Chinese women," she said – to solicit the celebrity's support.
"We are struggling to reactivate our accounts so that we can continue our work and are asking you to demonstrate your open support for Feminist Voices on Twitter," she wrote in the English-language missive, posted to Twitter Friday.
China's ruling Communist Party runs one of the world's most restrictive online censorship regimes.
Feminist Voices, which established an account on Weibo in 2010, was temporarily blocked by authorities last year after it translated and posted parts of an article by American academics calling for a "general women's strike".
The article in question spoke of the need for "a new wave of militant feminist struggle" against US President Donald Trump's "aggressively misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist policies".
The post was deleted and the group's Weibo account suspended for 30 days – the first instance of a black-out since its founding, with a notice stating they had "violated Chinese laws and regulations".
Feminist Voices has garnered some 250,000 followers since 2010, according to Lu. – Rappler.com